Drew Magary's Thursday Afternoon NFL Dick Joke Jamboroo runs every Thursday during the NFL season.
Like a lot of people, I spent Sunday morning reading Dan LeBatard's brutal essay about the lengths to which former Dolphins defensive end Jason Taylor went to play football on a weekly basis. Taylor suffered through regular epidural injections, torn-up feet, perpetual bleeding, and day after day of unrelenting pain—the kind of pain that takes over a person's life. I read all that, let out a wince or two, and then happily watched the Falcons and Seahawks play the batshit-craziest playoff game I've ever seen. The idea that many of these players will end up broken, crippled men didn't affect my enjoyment of the game, nor did the thought occur to me the day before, when I got to watch the Broncos and Ravens play the second batshit-craziest playoff game I've ever seen and Colin Kaepernick treat the Packers' defense like a nutrag.
The whole weekend, in fact, was a response to the question of how football will withstand the existential threat supposedly presented by its health crisis. Football will survive by being football, epidurals and all. It will survive not by being less brutal but by being transparently brutal.
Look again at that LeBatard piece. It's easy to read about Taylor's struggles—at one point, he had to sleep standing up on a staircase because of a nagging calf problem that nearly cost him a leg—and come away thinking this is another damning indictment of football. But then the piece ends the way a lot of your standard "former player spends lots of time in agonizing pain" narratives end:
"Would I do it all again? I would," Taylor says. "If I had to sleep on the steps standing up for 15 years, I would do it."
They all say that. That little capper from Taylor is all football fans need to absolve themselves of any guilt. Well hey, it's his life. If he wants to spend every night screaming in pain, that's his choice. MOAR FOOTBALL PLEEEZ.
Taylor's story doesn't center on head injuries, the way most recent NFL exposes have. Just before last weekend, we all learned that Junior Seau's brain tested positive for chronic traumatic encephalopathy. This was part of a different story about football brutality. The head-injury crisis is what happens when the NFL hides the full brutality of the game from the players. It's a transparency crisis. If the NFL had been as forthright about the dangers of the game as Taylor was in the Miami Herald, had it acknowledged the sport's toll on players (and paid out disability accordingly), it wouldn't be staring at the mother of lawsuits.
We like to wring our hands over football violence, but if I'm being honest, the fact that the game means so much to someone like Jason Taylor that he's willing to play with a catheter running straight to his heart, that it means so much to the next generation of stars that they'll knowingly cripple their brains to play it—all that only raises the stakes for me, watching from the comfort of my couch. It makes the game itself more meaningful. This is no mere sport. This is serious life-and-death shit. I must watch it.
If you've ever watched Red Zone Channel, you know that host Andrew Siciliano has occasionally (and surely with the encouragement of network executives) called the NFL the greatest reality show on television. And he's not lying. The best reality shows feature people debasing and destroying themselves for your amusement, and the NFL is no different, which is why the NFL can never lose, no matter how many disasters befall it. When the show is good enough—and holy shit, was it good last weekend—you can justify it any way you like. And the more transparent its ugliness, the more alluring it becomes.
All games in the Jamboroo are evaluated for sheer watchability on a scale of 1 to 5 Throwgasms. And for the playoffs, I pick the games, because that totally makes me sound like I know football.
Patriots (-9) 27, Ravens 24: Ugh, these two again. I hope a fucking asteroid lands at midfield. I don't want the Pats to win. I REALLY don't want Ray Lewis to win. Ray Lewis is the fucking worst. I bet he hides a knife in that stupid arm brace of his. Here's what Lewis said about the Jacoby Jones's miracle TD at the end of Ravens-Broncos:
I can only tell you what I shared with (Joe Flacco)... I just told him God told me to come just do what I was supposed to do. And I just came and put my hands on (Flacco) and I just told him to go do what you do. And for that ball to drop into (Jones') hands with thirty seconds left, how else can you draw that up?
Got all that? God talks to Ray, Ray puts his MAGIC GOD HANDS on Joe Flacco, God causes Rahim Moore to blow his coverage, God then places the ball in Jacoby Jones's hands, Ravens tie the game. How ELSE would God draw it up? Did you really think that Ray Lewis's unsurpassed leadership skills and access to God's private hotline didn't factor into that play?
Ray Lewis is a fraud and a camera whore. I guarantee you half his teammates tuned him out six years ago. He's gonna spend all next year giving pep talks to teams on ESPN Countdown and it will suck dirty balls.
Niners (-4) 41, Falcons 21: Four points for a ROAD favorite in the NFC title game? I DO NAWT AGREE WITH THAT LINE. Now let's get to the random crap:
• I opened up the garbage can the other day and discovered that my wife had thrown out an old chocolate chip cookie. It was perfectly edible, but now it was smeared with enchilada sauce after being dropped in the can. CRIMINY. I hate wasting food, so I fished out that enchilada cookie and I ate it. And you know what? Enchilada cookies ain't bad.
• I'm glad that the networks have gone to such great lengths to out-stupid each other when it comes to naming their extreme close-up shots. You folks at NBC thought you had it made with NBCEE IT, didn't you? Well, BOOM BITCH. CBS just dropped the hEYEperzoom on your sorry asses. Try to come up with a shittier name than that! I fully expect Monday Night Football to introduce the ESPNearsighted camera angle next season.
• One way to keep illegal contact, defensive holding, and PI calls from seeming so arbitrary is to eliminate the automatic first down. The offense gets an automatic first down any time illegal contact is called. WHY? That's fucking terrible. One stray hand to the face on third-and-17 and the offense gets a free first down? Bullshit. The punishment doesn't fit the crime at all. If the penalized distance causes a first down, then fine. I'm cool with that. But to gift the offense a first down automatically every time a defensive back commits a penalty is insane. Imagine if offensive holding caused an automatic fourth down. That would be stupid, right? Same thing here.
• Sometimes when I'm driving home at night, I get scared that a kid from the neighborhood will run in front of my car and I'll hit them by accident. Not speeding, mind you. Totally the kid's fault. I have a whole vision in my head of smacking running over the kid and then being like OH GODDDD NO, I HIT A KID! And then I tell the kid's parents and things are really awkward after that. I have no idea why I keep thinking of this. I need Google to start selling brain filters right away. You know they have them ready to market.
• This is the second straight year that the Ravens are in the AFC title game, and I was trying to figure out if they rank as the most successful relocated franchise of the past 30 years. I have them ranked like this:
11. Winnipeg Jets, Part 2
13. Oakland Raiders, Part 2
15. LA Raiders
I know the Nets haven't won anything in Brooklyn. But holy shit, that move was a good idea.
• I went to the bank the other day to deposit a check and the ATM rejected it. Then I gave it to a teller and he pointed out to me that whoever gave me the check forgot to sign it. And for a moment, I wondered if everyone at the bank thought I was some kind of deranged con man looking to pass a phony check. They've got me dead to rights. They know it wasn't a real check. Maybe I should take a hostage. If I have a hostage, they'll have to negotiate. I AIN'T GOING DOWN WITHOUT A FIGHT.
• So the Waxvac sucks out your brain, right? I can't imagine that any ENT specialist actually recommends sticking a fucking vacuum inside your ear canal. And yet, if there was one in front of me right now, I'd jam it in my ear for six hours.
None. Three games left this season. OH GOD NO.
Last week: 2-2 (2-2 vs. the spread)
Overall playoff picks: 4-4 (3-5 vs. the spread)
Austrian Death Metal Song Of The Week!
"Bondage Goat Zombie," by Belphegor! From Matthew:
Here is Austria's premier blackened death metal act Belphegor with "Bondage Goat Zombie". Not only does that sound like a sentence fragment, but that's not even their best song title. "Lucifer Incestus", "Justine: Soaked in Blood", "The Goatchrist", "Fukk the Blood of Christ", "Sexdictator Lucifer", and "Blood Magick Necromance" give Cannibal Corpse a run for their money. Also, I saw this band live a couple years back: total assholes and bassy as FUCK.
They sound fun! Nothing bad happens when Austrians become obsessed with violence!
Nazi Shark's Lock of the Week!
Lots of sports sites, to demonstrate the arbitrary nature of gambling, like to have animals like monkeys pick games to see if they can outwit their human counterparts. There's no reason we at Deadspin can't also get in on the fun. So we've asked National Socialist German Workers' Party member Rolf, who also happens to be a shark, to pick one game a week. Take it away, Nazi shark.
"This week, I like the Falcons getting four points at home against the 49ers. Hey, the youngest person on Schindler's List died. So terribly bittersweet."
2012 Nazi Shark Playoff Record: 1-1
Player That Deserves To Die A Slow, Painful Death
Rahim Moore. It's never a good sign when even Dan Dierdorf is criticizing you. Dierdorf usually spends the whole broadcast tonguing assholes. But Moore AND John Fox screwed up so badly that even Dierdorf noticed.
Gregg Easterbrook Is A Haughty Dipshit
Time to hop into the way-back machine (although TMQ would like to see the supposed "science" behind this Hollywood concoction) and poke fun at Gregggggg for spending the entire Heisman season slobbing Manti Te'o's knob:
Manti Te'o had four straight fabulous seasons and helped accomplish something widely viewed as impossible: putting a school with higher academic standards than the NCAA requires into the national title game... He's a former Eagle Scout. He's a Mormon who grew up in Hawaii, combining this year's presidential election qualities. Manziel needs to prove he isn't a one-year wonder. Te'o is about to complete his fourth consecutive banner season. If there is ever going to be a pure defender to win the Heisman, the time is now.
Savor that passage everyone. Mark it in your notebook for the next time some asshole tells you that you can infer everything about a person's character from the fact that they were a goddamn Eagle Scout. Now, there is so much awfulness in this week's TMQ that I must insist that you drink some ether or snort some mezcal before going further. Because Godfrey Cricket, there is nothing good to be had here.
Green Bay linebackers were still crashing in fourth quarter when Kaepernick, who already had 163 yards rushing at that point, got to the edge for a 16-yard run that was the lights-out moment. Linebackers at Akron or Bowling Green know not to crash against a zone read. But NFL linebackers didn't know it.
The lesson: DRAFT ALL YOUR LINEBACKERS FROM AKRON AND BOWLING GREEN.
In television news, your columnist figures in "Star Spangled Sundays," a four-part NFL Films documentary on the growth of the NFL, currently airing on NBC Sports Network.
"And the football Gods smiled upon the Super Bowl winner. Of course, I speak not of the Giants, but of the Walter Valley High School Pirates, who won the Super Bowl of North Dakota without punting once! HAIL TO THE PIRATES."
(Champ) Bailey had a sour, sour game.
Even more sour...
Double tout sour!
...the Seattle defensive backs jaw, jaw, jaw about how great they are.
FILTHY GLORY BOY SCOUNDRELS, THE LOT OF THEM. All that dancing and shucking and jiving and rapping ... verily, the football Gods do not smile upon such outright displays of repulsive vanity. Oh, how they CHORTLED once Matt Bryant's kick went boom through the uprights. CHORTLE ON, YE GODS.
Your columnist continues to test-drive cars, looking to replace my wheels.
"Did this car attend an elite school?"
I'm shopping in the sports sedan category, and having always owned manual-transmission cars, want something with a stick. My options are surprisingly few.
OH NOES! WHAT A SOUR START!
In November, I noted that the snazzy new Cadillac ATS sports sedan comes in a stick-shift variant, and there is powerful reverse snob appeal to driving a Cadillac with a clutch.
But yeah, Richard Sherman talks too much about himself. Meanwhile, I DRIVE A STICK SHIFT BECAUSE I PUT MYSELF THROUGH COLLEGE IN THREE YEARS AND I AM A SELF-STARTER. Literally. I don't like keys to start my car. I prefer to motivate my car into starting by reading it Chaucer.
But the stick ATS is available only with rear-wheel drive; I live in a hilly neighborhood in a bad-weather town.
You live in fucking Potomac. I've been to Potomac. It ain't Anchorage.
As of 2013, Honda believes that buyers of the Accord, its bread-and-butter model for decades, don't want the driver-in-command feeling a stick shift confers.
The WEASEL ENGINEERS at Cadillac are taking away my shifting rights, but do you hear anything about it in the mainstream media? NO. And you know why? BECAUSE JEWS DON'T WANT YOU TO KNOW ABOUT THEIR SHIFTING POWERS.
Back in the heyday of the Hurst four-on-the-floor — shift as hard as you want, just don't break your arm — four speeds was the norm for manuals. Then five speeds became the rage. The Audi and Acura models that have drawn my eye offer six-speed manuals, and the new cost-is-no-object Porsche 911 has a seven-speed stick.
Where will the number of gears end? STOP ME BEFORE I SHIFT AGAIN! I want a stick shift car. But not TOO many shifts. And I want front wheel drive for my hilly cul-de-sac. And the car must be designed by an engineer who attended an NAIA school. Is that REALLY too much to ask?
Whether manual or automatic, the multiple-gear tranny is a fading technology.
Come to the Gawker offices, Gregg. We can find plenty of those trannies for you.
Car enthusiasts have long fretted that the manual transmission would vanish because most drivers want to exert the least effort possible.
That's right! The average American driver is nothing more than a fat, lazy, slovenly GLORYROADER who doesn't appreciate motorized transport the way I do! I sense a novel about two such unhappy drivers in the offing.
(Richard) Sherman, who had just fallen for a high school trick, clapped derisively for the man who beat him. The football gods don't like that sort of thing.
This is what makes Easterbrook so awful. He always finds some player to single out and lecture after the games are over, and he adds this whole football gods thing to it just to give his reprimands a dash of divine authority. There are no football gods. You don't win a football game because you're an ethical man. Ray goddamn Lewis has a Super Bowl ring. Greggggg is like the unofficial nun of football writing.
TMQ could have written "game over" in his notebook when the New England cheer-babes came out in two-piece outfits for a kickoff at a temperature of 51 degrees. That's professionalism!
Verily, I fingerblasted myself with my feather quill.
The hey-everybody-look-at-me immaturity displayed by J.J. Watt was indicative of Houston underachieving... Hey everybody, look at me! Dancing on the field about a routine tackle while your team is behind: ugh. Watt had a terrible game — one tackle, half a sack, invisible for extended periods, often pancaked by Logan Mankins — but limitless energy for self-promotion. The Patriots are a group of grownups, the Texans are a group of babies, and it showed.
So true. Why can't ALL teams display the maturity of a Gronk? You'll never catch the Pats boasting or dancing or standing around because they are PERFECT PEOPLE OF UNIMPEACHABLE INTEGRITY. Oh, and Belichick banged your mom.
Economists including Friedrich Hayek have contemplated the idea that privately issued money would be more solid than government-issued money, since privately issued money would be cross-checked by market forces, while government is run to please campaign donors.
You got that? Greggggggg agrees we would all be far better off if we shifted to the Flooz standard. WHAT COULD POSSIBLY GO WRONG?! Maybe Richard Sherman would have a little bit more humility if his next contract paid him a million less in Camel Cash.
Reads that paragraph again. Seriously. Jesus.
It's hard to overlook Colin Kaepernick rushing for 181 yards while also throwing for 263 yards, numbers Johnny Football would envy.
My God! That means that Kaepernick is in danger of becoming a terrible person! THE GOOD BOOK HATH FORETOLD IT.
San Francisco leading 38-24 with 11 minutes remaining, the Packers faced fourth-and-5 at the midfield line ... McCarthy sent in the punt unit.
Do it ...
Needless to say, TMQ wrote the words "game over" in his notebook.
YES! THE NOTEBOOK! Of course. You know the notebook. I know the notebook. I think we all know how the notebook operates by now, do we not?
Indicators of climate change keep accumulating. Yet politicians of both parties do nothing, and the public does not clamor for reform.
Hmm. I wonder why?
Maybe the reason is Hollywood.
I KNEW IT! Every time an FBI agent isn't asked for ID on Hawaii Five-O, a layer of ozone is destroyed.
Many big-budget flicks — "The Day After Tomorrow" and "Waterworld" among them...
Yes, two WILDLY popular movies that remain in the public conversation to this day! And we haven't even discussed the incredible cultural impact of Dante's Peak.
...depict global warming as a threat to destroy the world. Not only does this place artificially triggered climate change in the same theatrical category as zombies and vampires...
But remember: GHOSTS are totally more feasible than zombies.
... whatever Hollywood insists is true, people assume must be nonsense.
So true! The other day I watched Lincoln and I was like BULLLLLLLSHITTTTT. Ain't no slavery repeal happening in this country! You can't even buy a stick shift! Talk about no freedom.
Many blockbuster movies — the "Dark Knight" flicks, the "Hunger Games" — are starkly nihilistic; yet most Americans believe in a loving creator God.
What is this? Seriously, WHAT IS THIS? We started out with climate change, then we went to Hollywood, and now Christopher Nolan is Satan. WHERE THE FUCK AM I?!!
The pattern seems clear: Audiences believe the opposite of whatever Hollywood tells them.
You are a fucking idiot.
Baltimore deserved this game, which the football gods capped by allowing the last-second field goal they denied to the Ravens in the postseason last year.
Funny, I thought it was Justin Tucker who was mostly responsible for that field goal. OR MAYBE I SAW HIM DO IT IN A FUCKING BATMAN MOVIE.
Why do years pass before doctoral plagiarism is detected?
Because I DON'T CARE. NOTHING MEANS ANYTHING TO ME ANYMORE AFTER THAT STUPID HOLLYWOOD THING YOU WROTE.
Great Moments In Bat-Killing History
Before we get to this week's story, please note that next week is the annual ANIMAL DEATH AND/OR POOP STORY POOPOROO. So send in any story you like if you'd like to be included.
Reader Don send in this story:
My sister is a compulsive snoop and religiously monitors her Police scanner. Last summer she heard a 911 call come in from a resident who had just observed a woman run out of a neighbor's house in obvious distress. The woman flopped to the ground, writhing in apparent pain and screaming something that sounded like, "He's got a bat!"
Suspecting a "domestic" incident a Police cruiser was immediately dispatched to the home. Shortly afterwards there was another 911 call from the same person advising that two more people (a man and a woman) had just scrambled out of the house and were similarly stumbling to the ground screaming in agony.
Fearing a bloodbath, a squadron of police was sent to the area. There was then an ominous silence over the airwaves until the following report was transmitted: It turns out that two couples were enjoying dinner at the home when suddenly a bat joined the party. The male host of the event bravely took charge and attempted to dispatch the creature with bear spray. Unfortunately his aim was off or the bat was particularly evasive. He ended up gassing his wife and the other couple who all ran outside in considerable agony. I guess he didn't exactly "have the bat".
Howstuffworks.com states that bear spray in the face will cause the eyes, nose and lungs to burn like fire and the mucous membrane tissue will swell up as well. A face-hit will almost guarantee temporary blindness and breathing problems. In light of what happened here, that sounds about right. Attempting chemical warfare against a flying mammal equipped with sonar is probably doomed to failure. Best to stick with a net.
Noted. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go buy some bear spray to use on my kid when they get outta line.
Fire This Asshole!
Is there anything more exciting than a coach losing his job? All year long, we'll keep track of which coaches will almost certainly get fired at year's end or sooner. And now, your updated 2012 chopping block:
• Norv Turner - FIRED!
• Chan Gailey - FIRED!
• Pat Shurmur - FIRED!
• Romeo Crennel - FIRED!
• Andy Reid - FIRED!
• Ken Whisenhunt - FIRED!
• Lovie Smith - FIRED!
• Mike Mularkey - FIRED!
• Rex Ryan
I think Rex is gonna be fired soon. Like, maybe tomorrow. I don't buy that he's completely safe.
I would like Taiwanese animation folks to do a dramatization of Chip Kelly (WEASEL!) being lured back by the Eagles. Surely, there were any number of nefarious sweeteners that Lurie kicked into the deal. Chopper rides. Luxury condos. Sex slaves. I MUST KNOW.
Gametime Snack Of The Week
Bacon ham! From Paul:
I present to you: deli sliced honey ham WITH bacon marbled into the ham. Fucking delicious. Not much more can be said.
I'm surprised people haven't cut out the middleman and just used raw bacon for lunch meat. What could possibly go wrong?
By the way, did you know that there are bacon Doritos? You did not, because they are only available in Japan. Why does Japan get EVERYTHING? They get all the cool foods and all the new electronics first. AND every good rock band tours there first before finally hitting the states. It's bullshit. Japan isn't that speical.
Gametime Cheap Grape Drank Of The Week
Blast! From Dave:
I found this in a liquor store in Red Wing MN before the Packer-Vikings playoff game. It was $3.99 for a six pack of 7oz. bottles, 12% ABV.
I said to the guy, "All right you got me. I have to try it. It's terrible isn't it?"
He replied, "I have it on special for the game tonight, and some people really like it. They buy cases at a time, I'm surprised they don't make watermelon." (racist!)
I get it home and open one up. It is a Blast of sweetness right to the face followed by a grape cough syrup aftertaste. People buying cases at a time should immediately be investigated as a child molester or a Buffalo Bill-style serial killer.
Anyway, now I have five Blasts left for the rest of the season. I suppose I'll just crank up Goodbye Horses and dance the night away.
The COLT 45 mini-logo lets you know it's a quality product. Holy shit, my head hurts just looking at that. I MUST GRAPE IT.
Robert Evans's Super Bowl MVP Watch!
Time to start thinking about who will win the Super Bowl MVP award. Every week, legendary Hollywood producer Robert Evans will join us to give us his assessment. Take it away, Mr. Evans.
"Baby, my favorite for Super Bowl MVP is Tom Brady of the Patriots! You want fake girlfriends? Baby, you are talking to the MASTER of inventing fake girlfriends. It was the summer of 1959, and I was in Spain filming The Sun Also Rises 2: Rise And Shine. I was reprising the role of Pedro, the feisty young torero. And Rock Hudson was Spark Gunsley, the hard-drinking American vying with Pedro for the affections of Sophia Loren! Now, back in the 50s, there had been whispers about Rock's love life. Handsome? YOU BET! Hit on guys in the steam bath? DAILY. Well, the studio didn't want their leading man being exposed as a "best boy," if you catch my drift. So the head of the studio pulled me aside and screamed at me, 'Evans, you're going to find that man a believable girlfriend!' And I said why me? And he said 'BECAUSE THIS IS THE PICTURES, BABY.'
"So I scouted around the lot for a dame and found myself a peach. Tall. Supple. Volleyball-type physique. I told her that her new name was Lana, and that she was from Maui, and that both her parents died in a boating accident, and that Rock was her step-cousin. I worked with her day after day, getting the story down right. And as time went on, I found myself enchanted by this imaginary woman. OH, LANA. She had been through such heartbreak! With only the pounding of the waves to soothe her grief. One night, I couldn't stand it anymore. When we were alone in my bungalow, I tore off her clothes and ravished her! And I said, 'Lana, I must have you!' And she said, 'But my name is Doris.' And I said, 'Shut up, baby! You're ruining the Hollywood magic!' AND THEN ROCK WALKED IN! Boy was he steamed. AT LANA! He'd been eyeing my tight matador costume for forty days! You talk about a love triangle! We both ended up sleeping with her, of course."
Sunday Afternoon Movie Of The Week For Chiefs Fans
The Master. I hated this movie. I was sitting there for an hour being like, "I don't understand what that part was all about." And then I was like, "Oh wait! I get it! It SUCKS. I don't understand what's going on because this fucking sucks." I should have known when movie critics said it wasn't Paul Thomas Anderson's "most accessible" movie. When a movie critic tells you a movie isn't "accessible," that means it's fucking awful, just like when they praise an actress for playing a "complicated woman" and it turns out her character is an insufferable bitch. All Anderson did for this movie was shoot a bunch of random shit like Joaquin Phoenix humping a sand castle and then slap it all together. I never wanna see Amy Adams give Philip Seymour Hoffman a handjob again. I WANT MY MONEY BACK.
Gratuitous Simpsons Quote
"Mr. and Mrs. Simpson, your son has clearly been brainwashed by the evil and charismatic Mr. Burns."
Enjoy the playoffs, everyone.